Meditation is said to relieve stress and calm the mind. Some are turning to meditation, either on its own or combined with psychotherapy, as an alternative treatment for psychological disorders. Binge eating disorder (BED) is one condition that may be treated with meditation. Here’s what you need to know about using meditation for BED.

Meditation for Binge Eating

People with BED experience an uncontrolled urge to eat a lot of food over a short period. These urges happen frequently.

BED may result in obesity and obesity-related illnesses, but not everyone with BED is overweight. If you have BED, you may also experience depression, guilt, or other psychological issues. Psychotherapy is often the primary treatment, but some people are turning to meditation to help control binging.

Meditation has been used for centuries as a way to calm the mind and the body, relieve pain, and promote overall health. You can meditate alone or with a group. In addition to relaxing the mind, meditation may also promote healthy thoughts and behaviors.

What Does the Research Say?

There is limited research on the impact of meditation on binge eating. Studies show promising results, however.

A review published in Eating Behaviors found that meditation decreases binge eating and emotional eating. Results were mixed as to whether mediation also results in weight loss.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was shown to help reduce stress eating, according to another study published in Eating Behaviors. MBSR combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) showed better results. This combination also had a moderate effect on weight loss.

Finally, in a review and analysis published in Depression and Anxiety, meditation reduced symptoms of anxiety. This analysis is important for people who binge eat since anxiety often plays a role.

Meditation Safety

Most healthy people with BED can safely use meditation as an alternative treatment. If you have a physical limitation, some meditation movements may be difficult to perform, however.

In rare cases, meditation may worsen anxiety and depression. To limit your risk of negative side effects, consult your doctor or therapist before starting a meditation program.

Finding an Instructor

There are many books and online videos that cover meditation basics. It may be difficult and time-consuming to determine which ones are legitimate. If you have BED, discuss meditation with your doctor or therapist. They will help you determine if it’s a good option for you. They may also be able to refer you to a certified meditation instructor. You should look for an instructor experienced in treating eating disorders.

Once you’ve identified an instructor, discuss your condition and the ways meditation may help. Ask if they will work with your medical or behavioral health team to make sure everyone is informed and your progress is monitored.

Taking a Mindful Approach

There is little research on the effectiveness of meditation for the treatment of BED. This makes it difficult to determine whether it is an effective treatment. Although research and anecdotal evidence are encouraging, you shouldn’t use meditation as an alternative to seeking professional help.

Meditation may be a helpful BED treatment option, especially when combined with CBT. It may help prevent or minimize the duration of binges, ease anxiety that leads to binging, and lead to a calmer state of mind. Speak with your doctor to learn more.